Up until I was a freshman in high school, I had not seriously thought about what I should do with my life. As far as my faith was concerned, I had a strong belief in God, prayed regularly, and had a relationship with Jesus, but I was not yet a Catholic. In my early high school years, two major themes started happening in my life. First, I began to strongly consider a career as an Army officer; second, I was questioning aspects of my faith and was searching for the right church.
My interest in the military started when I began living with my stepfather, an Army officer. He gave me a glimpse of the Army culture. Along with that, I was also in Marine Corps JROTC and was fueled by a demand of physical and mental discipline, leadership opportunities, and other challenges. I came to believe that the gifts God gave me would be best suited to enact the greatest good as an officer in the military.
I was simultaneously undergoing a spiritual transformation. I realized more and more that my faith had to be an essential component of my life. Not yet a Catholic and questioning the beliefs I grew up with, I started visiting various churches to see which one I should attend. It wasn’t until I began attending Mass at a Catholic Church that I knew where God was calling me. I initially attending Mass as my sophomore year I was at a Catholic school where I absolutely loved everything I learned about the Catholic faith. Between a love for the faith and the newfound love of the order and spiritual depth of the Mass, I knew God was drawing me into the Catholic Church. It was this year that I entered RCIA and became Catholic.
While enrolled in RCIA, I first considered the call to the priesthood. A priest, during an all school Mass, stated ‘he sat where we sat and perhaps one day one of us will stand where he stands as a priest at the altar.’ I was overjoyed at the thought of celebrating Mass, giving homilies, and bringing people the love of God. This consolation was real and powerful, but was followed by fear of not getting married, not having children, and not being able to pursue a career in the military. From then on, thoughts of the priesthood would never go away.
I finished high school, went to Wheaton College, decided to pursue a career in the Army through ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps), and continued to spiritually grow. As I learned more about my faith I loved the Church more and more, and as I continued to pray for God’s will, God gave me an inexplicable peace about the priesthood. I knew that I loved the Church more than I could love a woman and had to seriously consider the priesthood.
This is when I started considering becoming an Army Chaplain. As an Army chaplain I would be able to be a Catholic priest while also serving my country as an Army officer. I would spend 6 years in seminary, 3 years in the Archdiocese of Washington, and then start my Army commitment where I could serve soldiers who have a great spiritual need because of the tremendous situations they find themselves in. This path seemed better than I could have ever planned out myself.
During the spring of my junior year I knew this was the route I should take. I applied to and was accepted to seminary, commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army, and entered seminary in the Fall of 2011.